TITLE: ROSEANNE - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (MILL CREEK)
Release Date: September 13, 2011 (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Packaging: Double-thick keep case with paper sleeves
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 23
Running Time: 461 minutes
Running Time of Features: 39 minutes
Audio: English Stereo
Subtitles and Captioning: Closed-captioned
Special Features: Roseanne on "Roseanne": A New Candid Interview; John Goodman Takes a Look Back; Wisdom from the Domestic Goddess; Bloopers; Season One Highlights
It has been a little over six years since we first saw "the Domestic Goddess" on DVD from Anchor Bay, but it is no surprise that the set caused a lot of chaos among fans. Why were we given such a shoddy release with edited episodes for one of the most beloved series of the late 80s and early 90s? Fans complained and it even got the attention of Roseanne... and fortunately, by the time the second season was released, fans finally got unedited episodes of the series. But the first season was "left behind."
Until now, that is! Now, Mill Creek has the entire first season available on DVD unedited, and at a much lower price than the original Anchor Bay releases! So you can sit down and enjoy life in the Conner family as Roseanne (Roseanne Barr), Dan (John Goodman), and the kids struggle to make it day-by-day. In a sense, the series was almost like the Good Times of the 80s, though the family was a little more situated financially and a lot more dysfunctional. The series has been dubbed "one of the greatest shows of all time" by TV Guide, and to this day, it maintains a large and loyal base of fans that may have seen the episodes dozens of times (thanks to many, many, many cable reruns) yet still come back for more of Roseanne.
The series begins with "Life and Stuff," where Roseanne has to deal with many problems, including a daughter who is barking in class. In this episode (and only in this episode), Sal Barone plays the role of DJ. In "We're in the Money," the Conners feel that they've struck it big when Dan gets a $500 advance on a drywalling job. Dan begins to worry about his own marriage when he and Roseanne run into a friend who is divorced in "D-I-V-O-R-C-E." Everybody is mad at somebody over something in "Language Lessons." In "Radio Days," Roseanne wants Dan to become a country music star, at least long enough to win one hundred dollars. Roseanne talks Booker (played by George Clooney, a role he played throughout the first season) and the ladies from work into a bowling night in "Lovers' Lane." An old affair comes back to haunt Dan at the wrong time (is there ever a right time?) in "The Memory Game." Booker turns down a date with Jackie because his mother is in town, but is that really the case? Find out in "Here's to Good Friends." Dan's birthday gets a little out of control in "Dan's Birthday Bash."
Roseanne has a bet with Dan that she is sure she can win in "Saturday." Dan tries to keep EVERYTHING from going to a charity drive in "Canoga Time." In "The Monday Thru Friday Show," Darlene's new job isn't quite working out in "The Monday Thru Friday Show." Dan and Roseanne try to deal with Crystal, who still can't seem to get past her husband's death from years earlier in "Bridge Over Troubled Sonny." Ned Beatty makes his first appearance as Dan's father in "Father's Day." In "Nightmare on Oak Street," Darlene has bigger issues than the horror movie that is keeping her awake. The family hits the mall in "Mall Story," and everybody is having his or her fair share of problems. In "Becky's Choice," Dan and Roseanne discover a whole new side of Becky when she invites her boyfriend over for dinner. In "The Slice of Life," Roseanne feels guilty when Darlene has a medical emergency. Lynne Thigpen guest stars.
Roseanne has overtime at the factory in "Workin' Overtime," which gives Dan the opportunity to be the woman of the house for a while. Everybody just wants to not be blown away when a tornado hits in "Toto, We're Not in Kansas Anymore." Roseanne willingly invites a door-to-door salesman inside in "Death and Stuff," but who ever thought that phrase "death of a salesman" was so literal? Estelle Parsons makes her first appearance as Roseanne's mother in "Dear Mom and Dad." In the season finale, "Let's Call It Quits," Roseanne has to face a tough decision: her pride or her job.
I'm not sure how many times I'll say this in this review (probably a lot!), but the episodes all appear to be unedited, with runtimes around 24 minutes or so. One episode, "Mall Story," seemed a little low at 22:24, but I don't think there is anything to really be concerned with here, because it is still longer than the syndicated version that appeared on the Anchor Bay release. The pilot episode runs at approximately 26 minutes even, and includes a much different version of the series logo at the beginning. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "Life and Stuff" (25:41)
2. "We're in the Money" (24:21)
3. "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" (24:23)
4. "Language Lessons" (24:19)
5. "Radio Days" (24:17)
6. "Lovers' Lane" (24:22)
7. "The Memory Game" (24:22)
8. "Here's to Good Friends" (24:19)
9. "Dan's Birthday Bash" (23:37)
10. "Saturday" (24:21)
11. "Canoga Time" (23:58)
12. "The Monday Thru Friday Show" (24:06)
13. "Bridge Over Troubled Sonny" (24:19)
14. "Father's Day" (23:51)
15. "Nightmare on Oak Street" (23:51)
16. "Mall Story" (22:24)
17. "Becky's Choice" (23:34)
18. "The Slice of Life" (23:21)
19. "Workin' Overtime" (23:46)
20. "Toto, We're Not in Kansas Anymore" (23:44)
21. "Death and Stuff" (23:20)
22. "Dear Mom and Dad" (23:45)
23. "Let's Call it Quits" (23:09)
Ohhh Mill Creek, dear sweet Mill Creek... you are really starting to pick up your game on DVDs and are doing so well with them, but why do you keep thrusting this horrible packaging upon us? The artwork on the packaging looks great (much better than the previous release did), with a photo of the entire cast on the front with the series logo on top. It looks very clean and elegant. On the back, we have a brief series synopsis, along with another cast photo, several episode snapshots, and a list of special features. But once you get inside the double-thick keep case, you'll find one of the worst styles of packaging: discs in black paper sleeves! I think fans would be willing to pay a dollar more if it meant better packaging. In fact, I will probably be looking for replacement packaging for this set myself, because these paper sleeves are annoying, very cheap looking, and prone to scratching the discs. There are no episode synopses included with the set, but the discs do have the titles of the episodes included on the disc printed below them. The artwork is a cast photo similar to the cover art, but as you'll notice on the discs, the couch has only been Photo-shopped in, as it appears much lower on the disc artwork. Another common complaint with Mill Creek DVD sets--and this one is no exception--is the cramming of episodes onto the discs. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-9, Disc 2 contains episodes 10-18, and Disc 3 contains episodes 19-23, as well as all of the special features. This really should have been modified to a four disc set (as the original release was).
Menu Design and Navigation:
Mill Creek always does a very excellent job on menus on their DVD sets. Honestly, I am often impressed at how they seem to do a much better job compared to even the major studios. And this set is no exception. On the main menu, we find a cast photo (same on seen on the cover) with a transparent background, where we find different video clips of the cast members. The options on the main menu include Play All, Episode Select, and Bonus Features (on Disc 3 only). On the Episode Select menu, you get a list of all of the episodes on the left side of the screen, and as you navigate the list of episodes, you can see a photo snapshot from the episode. The only thing that would have been nicer would have been to also include a brief episode synopsis on the screen. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on the set is mostly pretty good, but of course, there is one issue with the set given the episode breakdown, and that is some slight video compression issues. I noticed a bit of blur on a lot of the episodes and a few minor ghosting effects on the episodes. It isn't as bad as it sounds, but it could definitely be a little bit better. The audio seems to be a bit low at times, but it isn't a major issue. Many of the episodes actually even have the original ABC "in stereo where available" logo at the beginning of the opening credits! All of the episodes contain closed-captioning, which is actually a positive change from most Mill Creek releases (especially since these aren't the same copies of the episodes used on the previous Anchor Bay release).
The press releases for this set mentioned nothing at all about special features, so honestly, I wasn't really expecting any... but that is far from the truth! This set has carried over ALMOST all of the special features that were included on the Anchor Bay set that was released in 2005. However, there were episode introductions on two of the episodes from Roseanne that were included on the original Anchor Bay release which were NOT carried over to this set. Still, every other special feature is back for this value-priced set. Each special feature can be found on Disc 3.
The first special feature that can be found is "Roseanne on Roseanne: A New Candid Interview" (9:06). OK, admittedly this isn't a "new" interview anymore, as it was previously seen on the Anchor Bay release, but it is definitely "new" in the sense of "recent." In this interview, Roseanne discusses her experiences of working on the series and her relations to the others on the series. She even goes in to some of her demands (in case you ever wanted to know why Roseanne has been depicted as being demanding in real life... because she was, but had her reasons) and how they affected the series for the better.
Roseanne isn't the only one getting the spotlight, though. In "John Goodman Takes a Look Back" (7:08), we get to see his views on the series and hear him talk about the relationship between the characters of Dan and Roseanne. Like the Roseanne interview, it is a bit short, but it is nice to have. What would have been even better would be an interview with the entire cast together (like the one seen on Warner Brother's release of Growing Pains - The Complete First Season), but we'll take what we can get.
In "Wisdom from the Domestic Goddess" (5:22), we get to go through a reel of clips from the series (not just the first season) of some of Roseanne's best advice and bits of wisdom. At the end, we get to see a list of the "Top Five Pearls of Wisdom from the Domestic Goddess." It is a fun feature, but would have been even more fun if it had been interspersed with new footage featuring Roseanne today.
"Bloopers" (11:01) is a feature that probably won't surprise anybody too much, as it is exactly what it sounds like: a reel of bloopers from the first season of the show (although as was indicated in our previous review of Anchor Bay's release of the first season, there are a few "bloopers" in the bloopers, in that some are NOT from the first season). The quality on these is just about as good as the broadcast quality of the episodes, so these aren't VHS quality bloopers like you often see on DVD sets. They're pretty funny to watch.
Finally, we have "Season One Highlights" (6:25), which is just a reel of the best clips from the first season. Honestly, I don't really care for these, because why would you want to watch the clips when you've got all of the episodes at your fingertip? But it still is a good way to round out the special features.
I don't really expect any new special features on any of the future Roseanne sets compared to what was on the older sets, but I certainly hope that at the very least, Mill Creek continues to offer at least most of what was included on the Anchor Bay releases.
I completely skipped the Anchor Bay releases of the series for two reasons. The first reason was that I really couldn't justify spending that much money for a series that airs constantly on TV. The second reason was that the first season included the butchered syndication versions of the episodes. However, I think that Mill Creek has really hit the sweet spot for this set. Unedited episodes at a $14.98 MSRP, including most of the special features that were previously included? That is a winning combination, and I think fans will finally be pleased to see these episodes unedited on DVD. I used to watch this series frequently, but I began to watch it less frequently as it constantly aired in syndication. Therefore, I haven't seen many of these episodes in a long time, and it is actually fun to watch them all again. I think that now, there is really no excuse for passing up on this series even if you are just a casual fan of the series. The price is right, and it is a great set to own. Just make sure, though, that you get the new 2011 Mill Creek release of the first season and NOT the inferior 2005 Anchor Bay release.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/12/11
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